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8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

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8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Self sabotaging. This is the tiny voice within us that quietly repeats the same sentence over and over again until we listen to it. It is not a sentence that enables us to live a joyful, successful life.

In fact, it is a sentence that holds us back from living life to the fullest, and when we listen to it, we forgo our dreams and goals. That one sentence, if we allow it to, can have a lot of control over how we live our lives.

“As I look into my life, I might ask, ‘Who is the person that represents the greatest threat to me?’ And if I happen to have a mirror around somewhere, I can rather quickly answer that question.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

This quote describes pretty well what self-sabotage is all about. Self-sabotage is an internal process that we all have within ourselves, whether it be through thoughts or behaviors that keep us from what we desire most in life.

Are You Self-Sabotaging?

The one sentence that our subconsious keeps telling us is:

“You can’t do this.”

This tiny but powerful voice comes from our subconscious. Our subconscious is designed to protect us from harm and help us manage our fears. Now, when we use our subconscious in a productive way, it can help us navigate through tricky situations.

The problem, however, is that our subconscious can become very overprotective and over time can have a negative influence on us, holding us back from achieving success and happiness in our lives.

“Stop standing in your own way. Stop making excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t. Stop sabotaging yourself. Decide what direction you are going in and take action. One decision at a time, one moment at a time.” – Akiroq Brost

If you are nodding yes to all the things that Akiroq Brost is saying in his quote above, then that is a very good indication that you are self-sabotaging and preventing yourself from achieving all your goals and dreams in life.

What Are Self-Sabotaging Behaviors?

Many of us have engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors that have become habits. We allow these behaviors and thoughts to continually undermine our success and happiness. Some of our self sabotage is so subtle, it’s easy to miss.

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We often fail to recognize how our actions are hurting us. However, there are common actions, thoughts, and behaviors that signal that you are self-sabotaging.

Here’re 3 self-sabotaging habits and behaviors to be aware of:

1. Procrastination

If you are setting goals, working on projects, and not achieving anything – in fact, if you are doing lots of thinking but taking no action – then you are definitely procrastinating. In this case, self-sabotaging thoughts could definitely be ruling your life.

Learn more about procrastination: What is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide).

2. The Inner Critic

Negative self-talk: what you say to yourself – your inner dialogue – can have either a positive influence on your life or a negative influence. If you are constantly criticizing yourself and your self-talk is always negative, then self sabotage is in control of your life.

3. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a very subtle self-sabotaging behavior because you can always rationalize why you should listen to that voice in your head saying, “It has to be the right time, or I am not quite ready to take action.”

Perfectionism stops you from moving forward and closes you down to any opportunities that will take you out of your comfort zone. Your subconscious is there to keep you safe, and it likes the comfort zone, so it will do anything to keep you there – hence pushing down all those thoughts that keep you from doing anything courageous and daring.

How to Stop Self-Sabotaging

“You can’t imagine just how much believing in negative thoughts is affecting your life…until you stop.” – Charles F. Glassman

Everyone self sabotages – it is what we humans do. Some of us, however, have learned how to manage our self-sabotaging behaviors so that they no longer stop us from achieving our goals and dreams in life.

We all have one gift that can help us take control of our lives for the better. This gift is our power of choice.

By taking action and using your power of choice, you are able to take control and proactively manage your self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors so they no longer have a negative influence on your life.

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You get to choose the life you want to live and how you want to live it. That is a powerful and wonderful thing to achieve in life!

Along with you using your power of choice, here are 8 steps you can start taking immediately to stop self sabotaging your success in life:

1. Understand Self Sabotage

To manage the behaviors that have a negative influence on your life, you need to understand what self sabotage means for you.

The reasons we engage in self-sabotaging behaviors are complex. However, the root of the problem is often low self-worth. This can lead to us feeling the need to be in control, or feeling inadequate or like a fraud.

Self sabotage can trick you into feeling that you are protecting yourself from disappointment or failure when, in reality, these behaviors are limiting you from reaching your true potential. The more aware you are of the negative thoughts and behaviors that control your life, the easier it is to decide what you want to do about them.

This is when your power of choice comes into play. Choose not to be the greatest obstacle in achieving your dreams.

2. Use Strategies to Help You Manage Avoidance and Procrastination

“The more you resist, the more it will persist.”

This is a saying that has stayed with me for many years. I am a great procrastinator, and the more I avoid taking action, the more my anxiety builds up. The best way to overcome procrastination is to have strategies in place that will force you to be accountable to take action.

For example, make a to-do list that outlines every step involved in achieving the project outcomes.

Or, have a daily to-do list that prioritizes the tasks and activities that must be achieved at the end of the day. Make sure that you have no more than 3 tasks that are a top priority and must be done.

Read more about how to make successful to-do lists: The Right Way to Make a To Do List and Get Things Done.

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3. Find Your Inner Positive Voice

What often holds us back in life is fear, and when we hear that inner critic telling us that we shouldn’t do something, we are afraid that it might be right! We start to believe that we don’t deserve happiness or that we are a failure.

The best way to manage your inner critic and the fear that comes with it is by not engaging in what it is saying. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, celebrating success, keeping a gratitude journal, and helping others are examples of how you can build your inner voice to where it has a positive influence on your life.

New to mindfulness? Read 7 Simple Tricks To Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Life.

4. Change Your Patterns of Behavior

Everything you achieve is a direct result of your actions. Learn how to control your negative habits and your fear of failure will diminish. Take control your achievements and focus on those behaviors that will reduce your stress over time.

Recognize that your negative actions and behaviors come from a place of low self-worth. Understand your limitations and look for opportunities where you focus on self-improvement.

Focus on reducing your “mental clutter” because when you do this, you will find you will have more energy and time to correct the thinking and behaviors that are not serving you well.

5. Make Small, Meaningful Changes

No form of personal change happens overnight, so be prepared for the journey of change. The best way to stay on this journey is to accept that real change happens one step at a time.

Consistently appreciating the incremental improvements you are making will overtime produce a significant and long-lasting change for the better in your life. It can be very helpful to ask yourself, “How can I improve this by one percent?” rather than asking, “How can I eliminate this self-sabotaging habit?”

6. Set Goals and Plans

Everyone needs a destination or an idea of what they want to achieve, whether it be in life or while working on a project. Having set goals and plans in life gives you clarity and focus and as a result, helps you to stay on track.

You are less likely to get distracted, procrastinate, and be influenced by your inner self-critic. You will also find that you will be a more effective decision maker because you will have the clarity and the confidence to move forward, which is what effective decision making is all about.

Master the decision-making process! How to Make a Decision: The Secret to Making the Right Decision Fast.

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7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

When we are immersed in a life of self sabotage, we tend to inadvertently surround ourselves with people who are in the same predicament. These people feed off each other’s negative energy.

There is no hope for you to make the changes you need if you continue to surround yourself with negative people – they will suck your energy. The more positive and upbeat people you have in your life, the more chance you have to make the changes you need to move forward.

If you want to live a fulfilled and happy life, surround yourself with people who are living the kind of life you desire. Observe their behaviors, their actions, and their language and then integrate all the things you like into your life as well.

8. Practice Self Acceptance and Self Care

Making changes in your life requires time and energy. You can’t ask yourself to make big changes if your energy levels are depleted.

Find ways for you to replenish your energy levels so that you are able to make those changes you need to commit to your journey of change. Be honest with yourself and explore activities that give you the space to reflect and replenish.

There are so many things you can do, so go find that activity or exercise that works for you – go out and explore. Try different things: try yoga or meditation, join a gym, learn to ride a horse, learn to ski. The list can go on.

The one thing for you to keep in mind is that consistent activity brings positive energy into your life, and with this energy, you will find that your self-belief and self-worth will flourish. Self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors will no longer have any control over your life.

The Bottom Line

“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. Learn to learn, learn to fail, learn to learn from failing. And begin today. Begin now. Stop waiting.” – Vironka Tugaleva.

Self sabotaging is something that almost everyone struggles with at some point in their lives. The important thing is to acknowledge that it happens, remind ourselves that we are not to blame, and take steps to stop self-sabotaging behaviors. Doing this will help us life happier, more successful lives.

More Tips for Building a Positive Self

Featured photo credit: Callie Morgan via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2021

10 Steps to Take If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

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10 Steps to Take If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future

Whether you’re a mother who wants the best for her children, a hard worker waiting for your promotion, or someone dealing with a personal tragedy such as a job loss, divorce, or losing a loved one, when we are feeling hopeless, we all need to dig deep to make it through these challenges.

However, hope can only be accessed once we get out of our heads and quit over-rationalizing. We need to be truly convinced that better things are in store for us. Even if things may not seem to be going right in the present, we need to believe that there’s a bigger plan that we cannot yet see.

Why Do We Need Hope?

We need hope to help us get through the difficult phases of life and uplift our morale to give us the courage to deal with the concerns rationally.

Hope is a positive approach towards life that keeps our faith alive. When you are stuck in a grim situation whose outcome is beyond your control, the only thing that keeps you going is hope.

No matter how much we despise getting stuck in a helpless situation, almost everyone has to deal with such instances in their lives. The stress and anxiety are pretty high during such times, and one is left helpless at the mercy of the almighty’s will.

We need hope because it helps us remember that there is still a possibility of a better future or outcome. For some, it proves to be a source of inspiration, while for others, it is the only possible option that they can rely on.

Having hope helps reduce stress and overcome restlessness to focus on the possible options resulting in the desired outcome. Even when you are left with no options, hope lets us believe that “miracles do happen” and thus maintains a positive attitude for a better consequence.

What Are the Symptoms of Hopelessness?

When someone is feeling stuck in a situation or where the outcome of an event is not in their control, they might show signs of hopelessness. Such people often feel as if they are stuck in a deep dark hole from where it is almost impossible to climb out. This leads them to display certain signs or form unusual habits.

Here are some of the common symptoms of hopelessness:

  • People with a sense of hopelessness will lose interest in regular life activities that they had no problem dealing with before. Finding it difficult to leave the bed, skipping meals, not taking baths regularly, etc., are common symptoms of hopelessness.
  • Isolation is another common symptom of hopelessness. People feeling hopeless tend to disconnect themselves from their regular acquaintances of friends or family.
  • Hopeless people feel powerless. They tend to show signs of having no control over any other activities of their lives.
  • Other common symptoms of hopelessness are substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.), overeating, consuming unhealthy meals, and oversleeping.
  • In some extreme cases, people showcase suicidal tendencies.

10 Steps to Take When You’re Feeling Hopeless

These 10 steps will inspire you and give you the boost of hope that you need to keep going when you’re feeling hopeless about the future.

1. Take a Step Back

If you’re overwhelmed by your emotions, and if the feelings of insecurity are plaguing your mind, it’s a sign that you need to step back and engage in some serious self-care to regroup and honor your feelings.

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Go for a walk, speak with a friend, take a mini-vacation, listen to music, meditate, or journal. Do anything that helps you return to center and balance.

Acknowledge and reward yourself for each milestone you reach, no matter how small. Every step you take matters and will bring you closer to your dreams.

Focus on the now by taking conscious, deep breaths and appreciating all that’s in your present moment.

2. Revisit Your Vision and Goals

If you’ve hit a wall, it would be beneficial to revisit your goals and vision. Take note of the exact goals that you have laid out and remind yourself what inspired you to create them in the first place.

For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, was it because your doctor recommended it or because you want to get healthier?

The key is to set goals that you’re fired up about and that you’re willing to commit to. Your goals need to be connected to an overarching vision that will galvanize you to overcome any obstacle.

Create a vision board, or write a descriptive and vivid account of what you would like to achieve.

3. Manage Your Expectations

Another possible reason that you’re losing motivation and feeling hopeless is that your expectations are too high. Often, our biggest disappointments occur from having unrealistic expectations. “Unrealistic” doesn’t always mean that you can’t achieve your goals, but that you may need more time or resources to actualize them.

For example, when opening a new store, instead of hoping to make 10K, focus on breaking even and perfecting your system of operations. Set positive and specific goals that feel manageable, especially in the beginning stages. Setting healthy expectations that are easy to reach will encourage you to keep going.

4. Have a Contingency Plan

There’s always a chance that your plans won’t work out as you hoped they would. I know that it’s hard to accept failure as a possibility without getting dejected, especially if it’s important to you.However, I’ve always found that having an alternative plan keeps failure in perspective[1].

A plan B is like a safety net, there to catch you in case you lose your grip. In creating a contingency plan, it’s essential to assess what went wrong in your previous plan.

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What could you have done differently? What are the lessons from the experience that can equip you with the knowledge to get it right the next time around? Ask friends, mentors, and coaches for candid feedback to supplement your own insights.

Let a solid plan B comfort you in knowing that failure is not the end of the road but merely a bend that’s leading you somewhere else.

You can learn how to create a solid contingency plan here.

5. Find Sources of Positive Reinforcement

Hope is like a candle flame that can burn out without constant positive reinforcement. We need reminders to stimulate us with hope about the future. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to be inspired, such as acknowledging our small successes along the way and remembering the times when we were able to overcome obstacles.

You can also find inspiration in books, music, movies, affirmation, and other people’s stories. I also love being in the presence of young children who radiate optimism. Find your own unique sources of motivation that work for you and do your best to stay away from the black hole of social media.

6. Have a Strong Circle of Support

As social beings, we benefit tremendously from having support from a community of people that matter to us when we are feeling hopeless. Friends and family members are the primary lifeline for most of us, but we can also extend our network to include a trusted group of mentors, coaches, counselors, or a support group who are open to hearing our story and who believe in the vision that we have for our life.

Whenever we’re down and out, these are the people who can be a source of comfort and help us get back in the game.

7. Stay in Touch With Your Vision

It’s easier to feel hopeful when we’re guided by a strong vision for our future. That’s why it’s essential to clarify your vision and future plans.

Goal-setting, vision boards, and visualization are a couple of techniques that can give shape to our dreams. By committing to these practices, our vision will become more tangible and within our reach.

Touching base with our goals will make them feel real and give us a focal point towards which we can direct all of our energy.

8. Stay Well-Informed and Be Proactive

Without knowledge and action, hope is just psychological fluff. Hope should propel us to seek out more information about what we desire and take directed steps towards realizing it.

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Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and it gives us the capacity to make more mindful choices. It strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to influence outcomes and to consciously move forward.

9. Stay Focused on the Present Moment

Hope has a future orientation and can, therefore, direct our thoughts away from the present. It’s essential that you don’t spend too much time planning for the future as this can lead to feeling hopeless.

Even though we want things to get better, we have to make peace with where we are in our current lives. This quiet acceptance will give us inner peace and prevent us from becoming overly attached to future outcomes[2].

    The truth is that the present moment is all we’ll ever have, and we should make every effort to capture its beauty and essence as we go through it.

    10. Practice Gratitude

    Gratitude generates a feeling of warmth and abundance. Based on the Law of Attraction[3], the more appreciative that you are for all that you have, material or otherwise, the more you’re likely to attract good things to you and improve your mental health.

    The next time you’re feeling down about the future, take a deep breath and think of all the wonderful things and people around you. You’ll feel an instant shift in how you see your life when you see how many things in your life you can be grateful for.

    You can start spending time with a gratitude journal or think of a few things you’re thankful for on a daily basis.

    When To Seek Help?

    If you find yourself in a jam where you feel extremely hopeless and stuck in the vicious cycle of negativity, realize that it is time to seek help.

    Many even reach the extent where they contemplate taking extreme steps like suicide or hurting themselves. If you are going through any such situation, it would be wise to get help from a professional who can help you feel better.

    You can try talking to your close ones first if needed and then solicit their advice about whether you should take up professional help to get over it. If needed, you can take someone along to the sessions. You must seek immediate help if you find the situation getting worse day by day.

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    Professional treatment is found to be very effective in helping people to deal with hopelessness.

    How To Help Someone Who Feels Hopeless?

    There are more than a few ways to help someone feeling hopeless. You might want to help out a friend or a family who is in such a predicament. Obviously, you would want them to come out of this mental illness or state and help them get back to normal.

    You must always start by determining how deeply the person is affected by the situation and their signs of hopelessness. If it is a case of extreme hopelessness where they may contemplate suicide, you must involve the authorities to take immediate action without any delay. You should also advice diagnosis or treatment to the patient.

    However, many others going through hopelessness respond to a sympathetic conversation. Sometimes talking about the situation helps them feel better and maybe realize that they need to change their approach.

    Refrain from being too judgemental and offering unsolicited advice without knowing exactly how they feel. On many occasions, such people open up during the conversation and indicate how they would like to be helped.

    Letting them know that they do not have to deal with the situation alone is another great way to help them feel better. If you mean it, then tell them that you are in this together and will stick with them till the end to them get through it.

    If you feel that your words and advice are reaping no results, then maybe you should guide them to seek professional help or support groups. Some people just need a minor nudge into a proper direction to help them towards their journey to recovery from hopelessness.

    The Bottom Line

    The next time you feel hopeless while waiting for things to happen in your life, remember that life is ultimately about the journey and not the destination. Hold your dreams close to your heart, work steadily towards them, but don’t forget to look around you and appreciate the gift of being alive on this beautiful planet.

    More on How to Stop Feeling Hopeless

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

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